To a casual observer, a strapline might seem something that a creative should be able to knock out in half an hour. It is, after all, only a few words. But a strapline is a bit of an iceberg. All you see of it is what’s above the waterline. The larger part, and no less important part, is hidden from view.
We think of straplines as an apex message
It’s not unusual for organisations to develop messaging systems, so that all their communications are threaded with the same topics they want their audiences to associate with them.
A budget airline, for example, may want all of its communications – whether they’re announcing share price, inviting customers to book a weekend break, or launching a new route – to be threaded through with two main messages: Easy and affordable. Then for specific customer segments, it may have additional core messages. So for its business passengers, the messages may be: Easy, affordable, always on time, two carry-ons allowed.
When an organisation has a messaging system like this, its strapline is the message that sits at the top of the pyramid. It’s the message from which all others flow. If you’re creating a messaging system complete with strapline, it could take several weeks to develop and involve interviews with multiple decision-makers and stakeholders, tons of desk research and a lot of competitor analysis.
What if you don’t have a messaging system? And you don’t intend to develop one?
The way we create straplines here at Wordtree means we have to act almost as if you do have one. We still do a substantial amount of research and understand what all of our clients’ key messages are (or sometimes, should be) to reach that apex message. And depending on our client, we may need to develop a number of variants that are tested in the marketplace before a final strapline is decided on.
So to arrive at the small number of words that comprise a strapline can take a serious amount of time and discussion. And rightly so – because a strapline is one of the core brand components that helps to position an organisation in its marketplace.
Want to learn more about straplines? Here are some links you may find useful: